How do you parent nerd children? For me, growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, being called a nerd or a geek was not something you wanted. It was often a taunt or a name to be called. Now, it’s a badge to be worn with pride. There are entire stores that sell merch for everything from My Little Pony to Doctor Who. You can visit conventions and communities, websites, and forums. You’re no longer relegated to a fan club that you pay to be in, that might send out a newsletter… by mail, once or twice a year.
My parents weren’t a part of geek culture, but now it’s a family affair. Here are some things that worked for me.
5. Embrace your inner nerd.
Everyone has something they’re nerdy about. You will hear people all the time try to tell you they’re not a nerd or just don’t “get it” when it comes to nerd/geek culture. My mother (a retired English teacher) will beat you down to get her hands on a new flavor of tea or a fancy style of yarn. But, she claims not to understand my Harry Potter obsession. Ooookay!
4. Introduce them to a variety of nerdy things.
This may come as a shock to some adults. Children are people with their own tastes and interests. Introducing your child/children to lots of different nerd things helps both them and you figure out what those tastes and interests are. I’m not saying to sign them up for every program available or anything; these introductions can be as simple as a trip to a museum or watching a show or movie. For instance, we live in a great area for museums, with the Indianapolis Children’s Museum and the Cincinnati Museum Center (The Hall of Justice) both within easy driving distance.
3. Recognize and encourage early interests.
My oldest child, Alexandria, has always been a big fan of anything animated, comic book, fantasy, or Disney. When she was small, she would often draw on anything she could get her hands on. (Magic erasers are a parent’s best friend!) We encouraged her artistic side by buying her art supplies and signing her up for clubs, etc. Now 22, she got to be a part of a community mural here in our town!
My youngest, Troy, was obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine and trains in general. He had several train sets and loved figuring out how they worked. Anything mechanical that came into our home he wanted to inspect and see how it worked, as well. Parents with this type of child know the game of “where did this screw come from?” well. Now 17, his interest led him to take a college engineering class in high school, as well as several college computer classes. He’s now out of high school and working full-time in an IT department.
2. Get to know their friends.
This one is important for any parent. Your child is spending time with the children of other people. Get to know those kids. As people, we tend to form our own mini-communities, so to speak. We are born into a family, but we choose our friends. If these children are important to your child, you should know them. Also… it’s a great excuse to
play all the new be current on games and have Nerf weapons lying around the house.
1. Have Fun
It’s fun when your child finds the things that make them geek out. Enjoy it! Go to those choir and band shows, chaperone a dance, volunteer for a book fair (and do a little shopping… cause why should the smalls have all the fun?!) Hit up museums and libraries. Show them films or shows you loved as a kid. Have lightsaber battles. Build all the Lego sets. Read books together. You get the idea!
These five things have helped us through our children’s childhoods. What are some of the things you do with your kids? Did your parents encourage your nerdiness/geekiness?